Technology is involved in every part of our lives these days – we even have meetings and job interviews by video call rather than in person. We have gadgets to turn on our lights, smartspeakers that are getting smarter all the time, smartwatches that not only tell us the time but count our steps, read our messages and a whole host more, wireless earphones, headphones and speakers so that we don’t have cables trailing everywhere, robots that help you learn coding by drawing pictures, and we can’t forget smartphones and tablets.
Even when it comes to making music, technology is taking a bigger role. Combining tech gadgets with music, drums and throw in an educational aspect sounds like an excellent idea and I have been trying out a gadget that does exactly that, a little device that makes music from your fingertips that turns colours into music – the Sphero Specdrums! And it doesn’t take up the space of a drum kit, just a small space in a drawer.
The Sphero Specdrums are extremely cool little app-controlled devices that combine music with keyboard playing or drumming with smart tech that fits on your finger. The Specdrum is a little silicone ring that is worn on the fingertip and comes with a coloured play pad that turns colour into sound, to help create musical masterpieces just by tapping different colours to get different sounds. This little device is an awful lot of fun for music lovers!
How does it work? The Specdrum has colour-sensors in the ring, by tapping the ring against any colour it allows you to use your fingers to create, mix, record music, using the colours on the playmat (or even any coloured surface or object) in a similar way to a keyboard. There are many different themes to download, leaving you to create musical pieces from techno to blues to percussion or grand piano music and anything inbetween, and the mat has both loops of sound and beats, as well as single notes and sounds.
The Specdrums come in different sized packs: 1 ring pack, 2 ring pack and a 12 ring educational pack. I received the one ring pack for review.
In the box (1 ring pack):
- Sphero Specdrums Ring
- Neoprene-type play mat
- USB charging cable
- Drawstring carry bag
- Quick-start guide
Out of the box the Specdrums ring needs charging. It is supplied with a charging cable, but you will need a USB charger (like your phone charger) or you can just plug it in to your laptop to charge – it takes approximately 1 hour to fully charge and that will give you approximately 2 hours of playtime. Whilst it is charging that gives you plenty of time to download and install the app for Android or iOS (minimum device requirements iOS version 11 or Android 6 and up – click here for the full compatibility list).
After installing the app and fully charging the Specdrum you will need to pair it to your device (smartphone or tablet). This really is a very simple process – with the ring plugged into the power, you just open the app, tap the CONNECT button in the top left of the screen and select your ring from the list. You can link up to six rings at once to your device, so you can easily play with friends and their Specdrums or create some multi-layered music if you have more than one Specdrum ring.
Charged, paired and connected – let the fun begin! Unroll the playmat and place it on to a flat surface. Then just start tapping away with the Sphero Specdrum ring that is on your finger on the different colours on the playmat to create your different sounds and ultimately piece together your own music. Let your creative musical talent flow.
When using the Specdrums app, it has a representation of the playmat on the screen, along with options for the sound library, editor, your own saved files and of course the record function. You can actually use the app without having a Specdrum ring, and that’s pretty good fun – you just tap the touch screen of your phone on the coloured keyboard and off you go creating and recording your own music. But where is the real fun in that? For me, the real fun and innovation comes from using the Specdrums ring with it, the playmat and being able to tap different coloured objects and surfaces around the house.
Once you get the hang of the how the app works, you can start to get serious and create your own music by tapping the Specdrums ring on the coloured portions of the playmat, or should you prefer, different coloured items of furniture, toys, clothing etc. around the house and see what sounds they make. Get finger drumming! Tap a colour, hear a sound!
Overall, The Specdrums ring and app is fantastic fun and an innovate educational gadget. Using your fingers to tap out music on the playmat makes creating music so much better that just tapping away on a phone screen, especially as you have so much more control to control the beat and tempo and can create different sounds on different objects and surfaces. As it is such a small device, you can create music wherever you go, the world is full of colour which becomes your own personal musical instrument. Tapping out sounds using your fingers makes it is easier to get a rhythm going than it is when you are tapping a phone screen, and I can see how the fun and musical capability would increase when you add more Specdrums into the mix.
It isn’t all about tapping your Specdrum enabled finger, included on the app are also lots of different sound packs and themes. There are cinematic packs, techno, jazz, hip hop, blues and more to help make your musical journey much more impressive and varied, helping you to experiment with different sounds and various genres of music. My personal favourite is the Retro Gaming set, where there are lots of sounds that I remember from playing video games in the 80s and 90s.
You are not limited to just using the soundboards that come with it either. It is much more interesting than that. You can even create your own soundboards by recording various sounds using your phone microphone and adding them to a custom keyboard.
As the Specdrums uses colour to create a multitude of sounds, the colour sensor in the ring will pick up the colour of any item in your home and turn it into a sound. I found that bright and light colours work much better than darker ones, and flat and firm surfaces are more reliable than soft and squidgy (it picks up a more even colour). The Sphero Specdrums really is an incredibly clever little device.
The Specdrums ring is small, it fits on a finger quite nicely and is lightweight. Although it is such a small device you get approx. 2 hours of playing time before it needs a charge – enough time to get lots of enjoyment from it before having a well-earned break for an hour whilst it and you recharges.
The house has now become one large musical instrument and we have had a brilliant creative fun time the Sphero Specdrums creating music and soundboards, hearing what sounds different colours and objects make whilst trying to put together something that sounds good. The kids have even taken it out and about in the carry bag (supplied) when we’ve had a couple of longer car journeys (headphones on, of course!). Lots of musical fun all with the tap of a finger.
I think that the Sphero Specdrums are fantastic. I have had no issues with the app or latency issues, it has worked perfectly every time, although I definitely am not a music maestro.
The Sphero Specdrums turn the world into a giant music instrument, creating sounds and music at the tap of a finger on different colours. It’s portable, can easily be expanded by adding more rings together, is extremely versatile and lots of fun. Tap Colours, Make Music!
Turn colour into music with the Sphero Specdrums musical rings.
RRP: from £64.99